Blockchain & Marketing


Blockchain & Marketing

Technology design considerations


Distributed ledger technology (DLT) has been available to the public for over a decade in the form of Bitcoin’s public blockchain. By the end of 2018, DLT and blockchain had finally matured to the point that it could be practically leveraged to help solve problems in the AdTech ecosystem. 

However, stakeholders in the advertising and marketing ecosystem are only now beginning to explore the possibilities. Technology strategists and industry thought leaders are investigating DLT with fervour, believing it will be a stepping-stone to the development and deployment of other transformative technologies enabling widespread automation and machine-driven optimisation. Now is a critical time for marketers to go beyond the hype to understand what exactly blockchain is, the emerging use case opportunities and what, if any, it can provide for your business. Whether you opt to dive headfirst into a test or watch and learn from the sidelines, recognising the nuances of blockchain and how it can impact multiple facets of your business are key to ensuring your business and brand are future-proofed and embracing of a future where blockchain may play a major day-to-day role. 

Two promising areas include the management of digital identities and providing supply chain transparency. Depending on your industry, these could have drastic ramifications and opportunities for management systems. Current production-ready distributed ledger technology can provide redundancy and a unique distributed form of trust with the potential to outweigh DLT’s well-documented limitations. Specifically, DLT should be able to provide a cryptographically assured trust mechanism for distributed identity management, data permissions and distributed consent management. This will in turn support widespread use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, multiparty computation (MPC) and the automation of complex business processes, easing the speed at which businesses can efficiently move forward with these opportunities. 

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Now is a critical time for marketers to go beyond the hype to understand what exactly blockchain is, the emerging use case opportunities and what, if any, it can provide for your business

DLT’s role in the coming year may be analogous to that of cheap consumer broadband in enabling mass market videoconferencing technology. Real-time videoconferencing and videophones were promised for decades. And, AT&T successfully developed videophones in the 1980s, but soon discovered that the development of cheap broadband technologies was a prerequisite to rolling out the services. Only after consumers could economically obtain high-speed, high-bandwidth internet connections did video chat services become widespread. Today, for applications like applied machine learning and artificial intelligence, blockchain and other DLTs may play a similar catalysing role. For this reason, it is important that DLT’s potential not be ignored. 

In this report, we will explain to our clients, partners and other readers two initial recommendations as related to DLT: 

  • Familiarise with DLT now via pilot programs, but ensure these efforts are married to your larger digital transformation agenda. Consider adoption of our five-step process for ensuring that DLT programs are indeed meaningfully connected to your company’s transformation priorities. 
  • Apply our checklist to ensure the application of technologies is aligned to your business priorities. When an enterprise is considering adopting DLT, critical evaluation of all three technology layers — protocol, network and applications — is required. And when selecting technology partners, companies must be wary of hyperbole. As is often the case with new technologies, vendors may over promise. The checklist will facilitate an orderly sifting of various vendor claims to understand the real application of this technology. 

While we recommend that clients and partners begin exploring DLT now, we acknowledge that full adoption of DLT cannot be done in isolation. An enterprise-level shift in technology is required and it must be met by similar shifts across the industry. Industry bodies have an important role to play. 

Though unclear regulatory environments, legal risks, and questions about interoperability persist while DLT grows out of its infancy, public sector participation is increasing. Many governments are exploring potential applications for governance of nations and communities. With these developments in mind, 2019 is a year to watch. 


For more in-depth insight and analysis, and for opportunities and applications of blockchain read GroupM’s Blockchain and Marketing report

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